S. Christopher Ford, 28, of Hamilton, Ill., was indicted by a federal grand jury June 23 in the Central District of Illinois. Ford was previously arrested and charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court on June 8. During a June 14 hearing, Ford waived a detention hearing and was ordered to remain in U.S. Marshals Service custody pending trial.
The indictment charges Ford with three counts of receiving images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and one count of possessing of child pornography. The indictment seeks criminal forfeiture of computer equipment and related items used to commit the alleged offenses.
According to court documents, ICE agents, with the assistance of the Illinois Attorney General's Office, executed a federal search warrant at Ford's residence on June 7. During the search, authorities recovered files from Ford's computer that allegedly contained sexually explicit images of preteen boys.
If convicted, Ford faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of receiving child pornography, and up to 10 years in prison on the possession charge. Each offense carries a term of up to a lifetime of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Greggory R. Walters, Central District of Illinois, is prosecuting the case. Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
For more information, visit www.ice.gov.